Are you a writing Screw-Up? Five things I learned the Hard Way.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A story that should have flopped.

We all secretly wish to write award-winning, book/article/blog selling perfect prose, the minute we lay our fingers on the keyboard and we all are slightly disappointed with our first drafts, when it turns out they are less than perfect. We may all understand that “crappiness” is part of the process but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

There are five distinct screw-ups I’ve made that have taught me how to get better at this writering and I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve sucked at and how it’s helped you improve. So, here’s my Top Five.

1. OBSESSION WITH W.I.P. TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE

I have been guilty of putting my writing ahead of absolutely everything and become obsessive about it to the point of a detriment to my day job (the one that pays the bills) and my personal relationships. This sucks and has not made me a better writer. Nothing, not even this writing means you should stop interacting with life at least some of the time. Don’t look at me like that, writing appeals to the loner in all of us, but without life experiences our writing is in 2D, it’s thin and lacks authenticity.

2. NOT PUTTING THE EFFORT IN

Okay, this is where I go the other way and hang out on social media and try to loosely prove to myself that “building a platform” is more important than the W.I.P. What is a Platform anyway? I’m not an oil-rig worker, I’m a writer! I’m a complete idiot when it comes to building authentic relationships via social media and that’s the new BUZZ message? Communicate, make friends and be real. But in  150 characters or less.

Or then there’s Procrastination which sounds like a disease and has the same ravaging effects. Whilst cutting yourself some slack is a good idea, there are times when you just have to sit down, suck it up and string sentences together.

3. PANTSER OR PLOTTER?

I am a Plotter who Pantses. I am now only about 10,000 words away from the end of the first novel and I am going to have to go back and plot and cut and re-draft. The second book will be fully plotted out before I start. It’s easier in the long-term and I’ve noticed a butt-kicking awesome lift in my productivity when I have a clear idea of where the work is going. A structure allows me to take the work in a different direction. A plan doesn’t restrict, it frees my creativity. Currently I have a lot more work to do because I didn’t do this the first time.

Whether you are a Plotter or a Pantser, just accept it and move on. Plotters don’t understand Pantsers and Pantsers don’t understand Plotters. We are two seperate sides of the Force. Of course I now realise that Pantsing is the DARK SIDE…..

4. REPETITIVE WORDS

There are lots of turns of phrase and words that as a new writer you are going to find a lot of in your work. I’ve listed mine in an earlier post. We all struggle to move our writing on. I thoroughly recommend creating a list of those words you overuse and then searching them out in your prose. Don’t remove every instance where you use them, as there will be occasions where they are completely correct and fit. Again we are back to the word balance…

5. THINKING ABOUT MY AUDIENCE

There will always be room for great stories and I need to accept the fact that all the storylines have already been taken. I don’t think there will ever not be a place for writing about all the great archetypes in our world. Yes, things do go through a cycle and you may find for a decade darker style fiction where everyone dies and there are no happy endings are in vogue, the next decade happy endings, hope and redemption win out in the light. My best example of this is Star Wars, a tale of heroes that became a major success in the same decade that gave us Scarface and Taxi Driver. Some stories will always “just” work.

Write what you want to write and stay true to yourself. Although some more fiction for grown ups and not teenage girls would be nice. Just saying.

COMMENTS, AS ALWAYS WELCOME. May the force be with you…..

My Version of Equality.

Stikfas Yoga: Beta female practices the Cobra Pose

Stikfas Yoga: Beta female practices the Cobra Pose (Photo credit: the other Martin Taylor)

I’m a bit embarrassed and a little ashamed. You see, I quite enjoy being the Beta Female to an Alpha Male at home. There, I said it. Now before we all go off the rails about how it should be all equal and everything. I am not subjugated by my dearest or belittled or oppressed. I’m also completely sober and deadly serious about this.

Let me explain. I have a professional job which involves a plethora of strong actions and key decisions. I juggle, I strive and I bring home some reasonable bacon in my work-life and when I get home. I want exactly the opposite. Because having it all, simply means doing it all – if you let it.

There’s something comforting about letting someone else take the reins and give you the space to NOT decide  and make decisions  for a bit. This is my version of equality and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Now, I am not saying that my husband makes every decision but we came to an agreement a few years ago that he didn’t need to ask my opinion on absolutely everything.

It’s tiring when one partner becomes so passive that you end up thinking for them because it’s easier than constant discussion.

What do you want to eat this week?

Where shall we go this weekend?

What would you like?

What do you want?

Whilst it’s nice to be consulted about major life decisions, I don’t want to asked all the time. This for me is perfect equality. I trust him to make decisions for me because I know he always has “OUR” best interests at heart.

What does equality mean for you?

205 – FOLLOW ME EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT….

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought about doing a blog post last week about this and then seven people decided to ditch me, so it became redundant and then I picked up another seven followers yesterday. Which is I think a record for me in a single day…

I hit 205 Followers yesterday. I know how many followers it says in the sidebar but that includes my twitter and Facebook friends too. So it’s baloney. But, my official stats are 205 as of five minutes ago. For all I know another seven people will decide that this isn’t hitting the spot for them,  hightail it away in the next twenty-four hours and I’ll be back under the 200 mark.

It’s not a mind-boggling number for most of you  – two hundred.. But for me it’s many, many more than I ever thought I’d get.  When I hit 100 I did a little dance and I’m just as thrilled now it’s the big 200, in fact I’m doing a samba now, which is making it hard to type.  I feel a little humbled by that number. We live in such an instant gratification world that to have connected and shared my thoughts with 200 people feels like a victory.

Yes , I know most of them probably followed me looking for a “Follow Back” and sometimes I do, after I’ve checked out their blog, read some of their posts and seen the heart of them beating. Sometimes, I don’t.

There’s some hardcore followers though, one’s who I still genuinely get thrilled about seeing their little faces or object or randomness in a square of happiness accompanying my posts as a like, then a heartfelt and genuinely thought-provoking comment on whatever I’ve chosen to ramble on about.

This all started as a blog about writing but that’s not how it is now, it’s my form of self-expression and it’s a bit random. Oh, I throw in the odd post about writing because it’s a big part of my life, but it’s not all “How to”.

So this post is my thanks to all those who clicked a follow and whether genuine or not, cheers for stopping by. I guess I’m not as alone as I thought.

There’s a  special mention though for the following (anyone not mentioned please don’t take offense, but I couldn’t stick 200 odd on here):-

http://charronschatter.com/

http://magoffleash.wordpress.com/

http://wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com/

http://thereclininggentleman.wordpress.com/

The above, you know who you are and you know what you did. THANK YOU.

Comments as always, welcome.

THE WORST AWARD, EVER

 

Opinion is divided on the “Awards” issue. I remember as a start-up blogger seeing these beautiful little graphics proudly displayed on people’s blogs and thinking wow, I hope someone sees enough merit in my little corner of blog land to nominate me one day.

Some say the awards are chain letters and don’t as a rule accept them and that’s absolutely fine. However, I think the awards are lovely and have always thanked those that felt that I am worthy of them (whether they only nominated me as they’d run out of other bloggers to nominate is not the point. It’s a nice thought.)

Yesterday, I came across a post about a New Award that someone had invented called the “Delusional” blogger award. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally agreed that the blog they awarded (by posting it in the comments section) was frankly abhorrent. There is however, a bigger question here – Where does it stop?

Taken from the comments in the post without permission.

My Comment:-

I’m sorta pleased you did this and sorta worried. Yes, I think the Blog in question totally deserves this award. But where does it stop? Does it end up with the cool bloggers and the not cool bloggers? Anyone put in the not cool group gets this award? Just saying… For example the lady above doesn’t HAVE to read the poop blog, that’s the great thing about blogging.

The response:-

“It stops wherever it needs to. I heap praise upon those who deserve it and I reserve the right to express my disdain for others.”

Is it just me or does anyone else think. ASSHOLE (or ARSEHOLE if you’re British). You see I believe powerfully in the freedom of speech and the right to believe in whatever the hell you want to. So this Blogger heaps praise on those who deserve it and reserves the right to express disdain for others? Who made him lord and master of the blogosphere?

Do we start awarding the “Bad Grammar Award” for blogs with dangling participles (whatever the hell that means)? Does it end up like school again?

Hey, I am so cool that I reserve the right to talk down to you like a patronising idiot, because you don’t believe in the same things as me and your blog doesn’t meet my lofty criteria?

Do you know what, if you don’t like a blog then don’t follow it, read it or interact with it. You could even try blogging about why the views espoused by that blog are wrong (in your opinion); you know get all intellectual and intelligent on them. That is the right you have, awarding the blog you don’t like with a nasty award – that just makes you a troll my friend.

Green Devils

THERE ARE TROLLS – Be careful out there!

 

SOCIAL MEDIA ATE MY HAMSTER!

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

I will eat your time and social skills…. Thats why I look so cheery!

Well technically it ate six hours of my day, however I have always wanted to use that headline in some sort of post.

I am not per-se a technophobe, you are more likely to find me sorting out the I.T issues.

Today, I felt all the frustration and howls of anguish that Mr TTWI usually emits. Because some stuff just doesn’t work like it ‘s supposed to. I have been mired in forums and focus groups, trying to work out why I can’t get my Facebook Author page to link into everything as I don’t want to connect it to my personal profile.

One more “unknown error” and I may have just given up on the self-publishing DIY platform idea altogether.

It is now working, but as the saying goes “along with freedom comes great responsibility” and that’s what this self-publishing lark is all about, I guess. We get to take creative ownership of our books and our brand all at once and that includes crocodile wrestling social media into submission.

Of course you could employ someone to do all this stuff for you. Just the same way that you could probably get someone to write the book via a ghostwriter if you’ve got enough cash…

But where would be the fun in that?

P.S – So if you have the time, please check out my lovely new Facebook author page and feel free to like it. It’s just my own little like at the moment and it feels a bit lonely…. As an added horror bonus  – you get to see what I look like.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/S-J-Foster/406358246087116